Senior US officials are beginning to assemble a new portrait of the insurgency that has continued to inflict casualties on US and Iraqi forces, showing that it has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than previously estimated. \nWhen foreign fighters and the network of a Jordanian militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, are counted with home-grown insurgents, the core of the resistance numbers between 8,000 and 12,000 people, a tally that grows to more than 20,000 when active sympathizers or covert accomplices are included, the officials said. \nThese estimates contrast sharply with earlier intelligence reports, in which the number of insurgents have varied from as few as 2,000 to a maximum of 7,000 fighters. The revised estimate is influencing the military campaign in Iraq, but has not prompted a wholesale review of the strategy, officials said. \nIn recent interviews with the New York Times, military and other government officials in Iraq and Washington said that the core of the Iraqi insurgency now consists of as many as 50 militant cells that draw on "unlimited money" from an underground financial network run by former Baath Party leaders and former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's relatives. \nTheir financing is supplemented in great part by wealthy Saudi donors and Islamic charities that funnel large sums of cash through Syria, according to these officials, who have access to detailed intelligence reports. \nOnly half of the estimated US$1 billion the Saddam government put in Syrian banks before the war has been recovered, Pentagon officials said. There is no tally of money flowing through Syria to Iraq from wealthy Saudis or Islamic charities, but one Pentagon official said the figure is "significant." \nUS military and Pentagon officials continue to argue that as Iraqi security forces increase in numbers and effectiveness, they will be able to gather even more detailed and timely information, an important consideration if the insurgency is to be stifled. The critical variable, these officials note, remains the large segment of the Iraqi population that has still not decided whether to actively support the new government. \nIn further violence yesterday, US and Iraqi forces left a mosque they were raiding in search of suspected insurgents in Mosul after coming under fire, witnesses said. \nUnarmed worshippers prevented the intruding forces from entering the mosque itself. The US troops then sparked an uproar when they entered the women's section of the mosque, the preacher, Sheikh Rayan Tawfiq said. \nInsurgents later attacked US vehicles parked outside the mosque with rocket-propelled grenades, witnesses said. \nThe US-Iraqi force then withdrew, amid jubilation among the worshippers inside the mosque. \nMeanwhile, all three Macedonian contractors missing in Iraq since August have been killed, a Skopje official said yesterday, citing experts from the Balkan country who reviewed footage of the Macedonian hostages broadcast by an Arab television station. \nThey were part of a group of Macedonians employed with the Baghdad-based Soufan Engineering construction company.
‘NO SURRENDER’: A blockade or outlying island seizure would be an act of war, and China’s drills last month have emboldened Taipei in its response plans, an official said The Republic of China Army Command Headquarters has agreed to purchase 5,000 Kestrel close-range anti-armor missiles worth NT$400 million (US$12.63 million) from the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, according to the military’s latest arms purchase bid notice. The army asked the institute to complete the order within 13 months, a military source said on condition of anonymity. Kestrel missiles are designed to penetrate armored vehicles and are used in anti-surface warfare, as they feature optical sights and night vision, and can be operated in all weather conditions. The missile has a 400m range, or a 150m range when used for breaching brick
IF THE CHIPS ARE DOWN: The US secretary of state warned that a disruption to the supply of Taiwanese semiconductors would play havoc with the global economy If Taiwan were attacked, the global economy would face devastation, as that is where most of the world’s semiconductors are produced, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday. In an interview that aired on the 60 Minutes television program, Blinken was asked whether instability across the Taiwan Strait would be felt around the world. Blinken said that China has been increasingly aggressive against Taiwan, posing a threat to peace and stability in the region, while economically the world would feel the effects of such aggression. Blinken was interviewed for the program after meeting with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi
‘ABSURD’: UN Resolution 2758 expelled the Chiang Kai-Shek government without mentioning Taipei, something the Chinese minister did not acknowledge, Taipei said Taiwan yesterday criticized Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) for “intentionally misinterpreting” a 1971 UN resolution to misrepresent Taiwan’s status to the global community. In his address on Saturday to the UN General Assembly, Wang cited Resolution 2758 as a basis for Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China. He said that Beijing considers Taiwan an “inseparable part of China’s territory since ancient times.” “Only when China is completely reunified can there be enduring peace across the Taiwan Strait... Any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history,” Wang said. General Assembly Resolution 2758
The UK is determined to work with its allies to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself, British Prime Minister Liz Truss said on Sunday, a pledge that drew expressions of gratitude from Taipei. “What I’ve been clear about is that all of our allies need to make sure Taiwan is able to defend itself, and that is very, very important,” Truss said in a CNN interview, when asked whether the UK was willing to match the US’ pledge last week to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an attack by China. Truss said her government was working with its G7 allies,